#1
I have an old very-bad-in-every-way Strat copy, and im going to fix it up and repair it.

I was going to sand it and respray it, and then I realized it isn't paint on it, it's covered in a thin plastic finish. Is this normal? I'm 90% sure it's not. Should I keep trying to sand off the plastic, or is there something else you do when it's finished this way?
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#2
Not so unusual in a cheap copy. Carry on sanding, but you should wear a respirator or at least a filter mask.
#3
It's sounds like its just a poly finish, pretty normal as far as guitars go. Just sand through it, I recommend using something along the lines of a random orbital sander to make short work of it and the paint (as long as you go slowly and carefully). It can be a bit time consuming to get through it by hand.
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